Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Around my dormitory

It's almost one year since I'm in Japan now and my stay is going to end soon. I had a great time here, met awesome and wonderful people, did a research program, learned Japanese (at least a bit) and saw a lot of amazing things and marvelous places. One good point about my long stay here was that it gave me the chance, not only to see the most famous places and touristic hot spots, but also to discover the places and details a normal tourist can not focus on, because he hasn't the time.
In the next posts, I want to show you some of the daily sites I can enjoy everyday.Lets start with the area around my dormitory:
I life in Aobadai-Machida, a suburb of Tokyo. It takes about 30 min to Tokyo-Shibuya with the Den-En-Toshi-Line. As it is a commuter line, it is one of the most congested lines in Tokyo. Indeed, in the early morning and in the evening you can see how the people get pushed in the trains by the station-staff. And you can experience it by yourself. It is actually not as bad as it looks in youtube videos. Indeed, if you are not claustrophobic, it can be quite cozy ^^
And normally only the express trains are that crowded. They are quite fast (about 100 km/h) and only stop at main stations. So you need to endure it only for about 20 minutes. But don't even think about getting a seat in the train. Here you see a train of the Den-En-Toshi-Line rushing for Aobadai.

The small river below the bridge is the tsurumigawa (鶴見川), which basically means <crane-view-river>. Its a really nice area, with rice fields and farms around it, and its only 3 km from Aobadai. Cause I'm the proud owner of a bicycle since recently, I now go there quite often for jogging and taking pictures. Here's one of the tsurumigawa with an expressway access on the right side.

Unfortunately the river is straightened, but it is still a quite and relaxed place and one of these rare green oasis in this highly populated area. I'm not the only one thinking so:

And that the animal that gives the river its name: (actually, I shot this picture at another river that close to my dorm)

In fact, the area where I life offers a high variety. Most of the area is densely populated, with houses so close to each other that you could jump from roof to roof. But there are some areas, especially around such small rivers, where the area looks like it was maybe 50 years ago; rice fields scattered around small rivers and forests. The next pictures give a good impression:

I shot these pictures last year in October. The rice is already harvested and bundled and dries on the fields.This year, in May, I saw how the rice is planted:

Compared to the large agriculture machines we use in Germany, rice farming looks like hand-made business. As the fields are flooded with water, they can not be as large as corn fields and need much more maintenance. However, no herbicides are needed, because nothing is growing as fast as rice plants under this conditions. In fact, that's the main reason rice was cultivated that way.

Some farmers are using interesting methods to keep insects and vermins away, like these rotating PET-bottles:

I also saw water filled PET bottles quite often, at corners and street lamps. I couldn't imagine why, until I my tutor explained it to me:

The bottles reflect and scatter the light. This irritates cats and dogs and prevent them from marking their territory. The water is just to fixate the bottle.

As you can see on the pictures, there are also some small forests around my dormitory. They look like German forests from far, but some parts are bamboo:

So, even in a extremely densely populated area like Tokyo and it surroundings, when you look around, you can find nature, plants and even animals, like this butterfly:

or this chocolate-man:

so, lets go out and discover nature, and make pictures of it ^^

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